Huge Honeybee Swarm On World Bee Day 2019
So there am I, in the midst of the 2019 swarm season with eight precious honeybee swarms successfully collected, with room for at least a few dozen more.
Specifically, I was earning brownie points from the missus by refurbing the kitchen, dining room, and conservatory.
So serious brownie points.
Out of the blue, my better half, Suzanne, casually says your bees are swarming.
‘Yea right of course they are’, I said thinking my leg was being pulled.
Then I looked outside and, et voila, a colossal swarm was checking out the oak tree in my garden.
While I have stopped counting, I have probably collected more than sixty honeybee swarms in recent years.
This was significantly larger than an average swarm, larger than the biggest primary swarm collected to date.
For the beeks (Beekeepers) out there, bear in mind the collection boxes I use, can take up to six (6) Langstroth deep frames, so, pretty large.
The swarm settled in the tree, extending beyond both sides of the collection box, also across the top and front.
I thought about the film ‘Jaws’, you know that scene where the boat skipper declares ‘we’re gonna need a bigger boat’.
Well! We’re gonna need a bigger box.
Rarely is a full-size beehive called upon, to immediately house a swarm, a full-size hive is simply too big.
But on this occasion, little else seemed appropriate.
The regular swarm capture box was not big enough! They did not like it!
The honeybees were merely draping over and around the box, and not interested in going inside, other measures were needed.
So I removed the swarm collection box carefully, so as not to displace any part of the swarm, then got out my favourite tool for honeybee-swarms hanging in a tree, moderately out of reach.
Into the full-size beehive they went, there were still a considerable amount of bees to get into the hive.
Being sure I had the queen in the box, I waited as they streamed into the beehive.
The only thing left to do now was to let them settle into their new home.
Hours passed, and they eventually clambered onto and into the beehive.
Later in the day, it seemed the bees were preparing to swarm again!
There is little you can do when this occurs except wave them goodbye.
However! They changed their mind and returned to the hive.
The swarm was huge!
A large collection box was nowhere near big enough.
The honeybee swarm was placed directly into a full-size beehive.
Yet these lovely creatures were still unsure as to the suitability of the new home!
So time for something I’ve never, ever done before, something that on any other day would fly in the face of swarm collecting.
Time for plan C
Time to add a ‘super’ and increase the capacity of the hive immediately.
A ‘super’ is a fancy name for the box (Yellow in the picture below) that you place on top of the brood box.
The brood box is the bottom box (Green in the picture below) of the beehive.
Note: Yes! Other beehive designs can vary.
First remove the top feeder and add a queen excluder.
Then on with the ‘super’.
The inner lid (Which is also the feeder on the beehive system I use).
After adding some sugar syrup, to load the odds in my favour of them staying in the hive, I add the roof.
You may think that is the last of it, but no, the bees insisted on the proverbial last word.
The pesky little blighters ate all the sugar syrup then indicated they might leave again.
This time I filled the top feeder to capacity, pretty soon they were once again distracted, feeding and building out their wax honeycombs.
Phew! That is definitely one of the top ten memorable honeybee swarm collections.
Every minute wrangling these little beauties was well worth it.
As suitable habitat disappears, more and more honeybee swarms will not survive unless captured and homed in a beehive.
These hard-working creatures are an essential part of pollinating our food crops.
This is why I will never, ever, turn away a honeybee swarm.